From education to employment

Isabella Moore, CILT Director, writes exclusively for FE News

Diplomas, the new qualifications for 14-19-year olds, herald the biggest change to the 14-19 curriculum for many years. Sitting alongside GCSEs and A Levels, they offer young people the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills within an applied, sector-focused context. Employers have been actively involved in the development of the new qualifications, keen to ensure that young people gain not only knowledge of a particular sector/subject, but also vital skills for employment and higher education such as literacy, numeracy and IT skills, along with the ability to think, interact and communicate at a high level.

In our globally competitive employment market, no-one would dispute that all of these skills are vital for a good employee. Equally, who could dispute that language and intercultural skills are also essential for functioning effectively in this environment, or that the additional skills that language learning brings can be overlooked (confidence-building, problem-solving, developing a broader outlook etc)? Although there is still some awareness-raising to be done in terms of overcoming the attitude of “everyone speaks English” that languages will be available within the additional and specialist learning component of the Diploma is a positive step.

A selected number of schools and colleges will offer the first five of these Diplomas (Construction and Built Environment, Engineering, ICT, Society, Health & Development, and Creative & Media) from the next academic year with fourteen Diploma lines available from 2013. The inclusion of languages as an option within all of the first five Diplomas offers welcome opportunities for the growth of language learning for 14-19, including in further education. From 2008 learners will be able to chose language qualifications for inclusion within additional and specialist learning, depending on what is available locally. Work will need to be done to raise the profile of languages within the Diploma and CILT’s latest Languages Work materials tie into the new Diploma lines and highlight the benefits of languages in the workplace.

The Diploma will include a minimum of ten days” work experience at each level and students should be encourages to do this work experience either in an international company using languages, or even abroad. CILT’s newly-produced Work Placement Toolkit would provide a helpful aid in preparing students linguistically for such a placement Only 13% of UK students go on international workplacements compared to 24% in Germany and 32% in France – the Diploma could be a fantastic opportunity for these students to experience work in an international environment.

Isabella Moore, Director, CILT

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